Linda Geist

MOBERLY, Mo. – Spending few hours now on spring home maintenance can save you many hours and dollars later, says a University of Missouri Extension housing specialist.

Tom Fuhrman says it’s time to take care of any problems caused by winter weather and spring storms to protect your investment.

Winter’s freeze-and-thaw cycles, hail damage and heavy rains can allow water to enter the home. “Water inside your home is not a friend of the home,” Fuhrman said. Water can result in rot, mold and discoloration, and can also attract rodents and other pests.

Start at the basement and work upward, inside and out, Fuhrman says:

• Look for dampness and cracks in the foundation. Seal small cracks and call a foundation expert for larger breaks. Cracks, bulges and moisture signal problems.

• Check water heaters for corrosion and leaks.

• Check for lint buildup in the dryer duct. Use the attachments on the vacuum cleaner to suck out lint. Make sure the outside vent hood is securely attached.

• Check kitchen appliances. Clean the tray under your refrigerator and vacuum the coils on the back. Check seals. Pull the appliances out from the wall and clean underneath and behind them each spring.

• Check the bathroom tub, shower and stool to see if caulking is intact. Check areas for water tightness. Examine areas around drains and under sinks for dampness and leaks.

• Check windowsills for buckling or leaks. Check doors; sticking may indicate foundation problems.

• Do a general cleaning. Dust and vacuum weekly. Spring-clean by washing cabinets inside and out and cleaning carpets. Wash windows inside and out. Remove storm windows and wash screens with a mild detergent before installing.

Take a walk around the outside of your home:

• Check for cracks in the basement, crawl space, brick or masonry.

• Look for loose siding and trim, and for paint that has peeled or cracked.

• Check for loose or leaky gutters. Make sure downspouts drain water away from the foundation. Remove leaves and other debris from gutters.

• Use a screwdriver to probe for rotted areas of exposed wood trim around windows, doors, decks and railings.

• From the ground, check for buckled or loose roof shingles. Use binoculars to inspect closely. Pay special attention to areas around the chimney, skylights and vents.

• Check the chimney for signs of damage. Hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney.

• Remove firewood stored near the house. This prevents rodents and insects from finding a summer home.

• Have an HVAC expert examine the air conditioning and furnace units. Change furnace filters monthly.

• Check for cracks in driveways and sidewalks.

• Fill in low-lying areas with compacted soil, especially near the foundation. Spring rains can wash away soil and let water seep into your crawl space or basement.

• Power wash your home’s exterior.

• Spring-clean your windows inside and out. Fuhrman recommends a low-cost vinegar-and-water mix and newspapers to clean.

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